NEW YORK – Timberwolves fans can mark their calendars for June 22 as the end of their anxiety concerning whether the Wolves will end up with a top-three pick or have to surrender their first-rounder to Golden State.
The league announced the draft lottery will be June 22, a date that has loomed larger as the Wolves slog through this season with the worst record in the NBA. The draft itself will be July 29. In a typical year the Wolves' misery would mean they would be guaranteed at least a high draft pick, but not this year.
As part of their trade with the Warriors sending Andrew Wiggins for D'Angelo Russell last season, the Wolves agreed to give the Warriors their first-round pick this year with top three protection. If the Wolves finish in the bottom three of the league standings they would have roughly a 40% chance of landing in the top three, which means a 60% chance of Golden State getting the pick.
The Wolves had hoped when they made the deal that at least the pick would be toward the later part of the lottery if they had to surrender it, but with the way this season has played out because of their ineffectiveness combined with injury and COVID-19 absences, the Wolves entered Monday with 11 victories, fewest in the NBA. Detroit was next lowest with 12, followed by Houston with 13. After that the next worst team, the Magic, has 15 with the Wizards after that at 16. So depending how the rest of the season plays out, there's no guarantee the Wolves finish in the bottom three. But if they finish with the fourth-worst record their odds of landing in the top three only decrease to 36.6%. It would be 31.6% if they finished fifth.
The league said there would be a draft combine this year, pending health developments.
Effort not all there
When asked what was missing in the Wolves' blowout loss to the Rockets on Saturday, guard Jaylen Nowell articulated an issue the Wolves have been well aware of but have been unable to correct.
"For one, energy," he said. "Making sure that we play hard the full 48 [minutes]. Because we have moments of playing really hard. We just want to make sure it's a full 48. Not a 24. Not a 12. Not even a 36 — we want the full 48. So that's number one that we need to focus on."
Nowell said the Wolves are "in the process" of getting to the root of the issues as it relates to their energy and effort level throughout a game.
"I think it's playing through fatigue," Nowell said. "Obviously us being young, I think we need to realize certain situations during the game where we just kind of look at and it's like, 'Oh, it's a young player mistake.' And we have a lot of those as of right now. So I think it's going to come with more experience and just the willingness to go out and compete every single night."
Nowell has slid into the rotation this season thanks to his scoring ability and ability to create off the dribble and said he watches a lot of the Nets' Kyrie Irving.
Irving has had a large influence on Nowell's game and Nowell said it was going to be a fun opportunity to go up against him.
"If you've guys noticed, I do wear a lot of his shoes almost every game," Nowell said.